Hostilities resumed on Thursday night in the UEFA Europa League with eight first leg round-16 ties across different stadia in Europe.
In the dubbed “clash of sleeping giants” in Italy, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal ended AC Milan’s 13-game unbeaten run with an infamous 2-0 victory over the resurgent Gino Gattuso’s men at the San Siro.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired the gunners in front in the 14th minute of the game, courtesy of a powerful drive which took a deflection off Leonardo Bonucci and rendered Gianluigi Donnarumma helpless, before Aaron Ramsey added the second on the stroke of half time after rounding Donnarumma again and tapped into an empty net.
Another Italian side, Lazio were held to a 2-2 draw at home by 10-man Dynamo Kiev. The hosts fell behind in the 52nd minute no thanks to Viktor Tsigankov’s goal but Ciro Immobile responded almost immediately and Felipe Anderson put Lazio ahead for the first time eight minutes later. The lead was however short lived as Moares leveled up matters for the Ukrainian club.
In Spain, Atletico Madrid ran over Lokomotiv Moscow with a comprehensive 3-0 win as they continue their surge in the second tier of Europe’s elite competition. Saul Niguez opened scoring in the 22nd minute before Diego Costa doubled the advantage on the resumption of second half and Koke put the icing on the cake just before the full time whistle.
Spain’s second representative at this stage of the competition, Athletic Bilbao were however not so lucky, as they were thrashed 3-1 by Marseille in France. Lucas Ocampos brace and Dimitri Payet all scored for the French side, highest goal scorer Aritz Adruiz pulled one back for Bilbao to take his tally to eight goals.
Elsewhere in Russia, Nigeria Super Eagles forward, Ahmed Musa was on parade for CSKA Moscow as the Russian side succumbed to a 1-0 loss at home against Olympic Lyon of France. The Viktor Goncharenko side fell behind to a Marcelo Guedes goal in the 68th minute before Musa was subbed off in the 87th minute of the game.
Similarly, there was no messiah to rescue German club, Borussia Dortmund as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Austrian hotshot, Salzburg. Valon Berisha scored twice for the visitors in the second half – one from the spot and the other from open play, to silence Signal Iduna Park. Andre Schuerrle however pulled one back for Dortmund but it would only be as good as a consolation.
In the two other games, RB Leipzig proved too strong for Zenith St. Petersburg with a 2-1 win even as Portuguese outfit, Sporting CP saw off Czech Republic’s Victoria Plzen by 2 goals to nil.
The second leg of the fixtures will come up next Thursday.